BOSTON (07-Oct) -- With their convincing victories at today's 12th B.A.A. Half-Marathon here, Allan Kiprono and Kim Smith locked up the inaugural three-race B.A.A. Distance Medley title, collecting $100,000 each, the largest non-marathon prize in all of road running. Kiprono's time of 1:01:44 was a course record, while Smith's mark of 1:10:57 was just five seconds off of Caroline Rotich's event record from 2010.
Kiprono, 22, from Kaptagat, Kenya, made his intentions for victory known early in the race. He had to run aggressively because he trailed Distance Medley leaders Ali Abdosh and Sam Chelanga by 6 seconds. In the mostly downhill first five kilometers (14:13), Kiprono pushed into the led with a 4:25 third mile than an even faster 4:23 for the fourth.
"I wanted to see how the guys run," Kiprono said after the race. "I was testing the guys first."
By the 8-kilometer/5-mile mark (22:48), Kiprono had built a 12-second lead on Chelanga, his nearest chaser. Chelanga, whose wife and brother-in-law came to watch him run, soon ran into trouble with abdominal cramps. He told reporters later that he had to stop at the side of the road and vomit. Abdosh, the Ethiopian who was tied with Chelange for the Medley lead coming into the race, also has physical problems and quickly went out of contention.
"It was very, very difficult," he told Race Results Weekly. "After 10 kilometers my back was hurting. It was very, very hard."
Kiprono got to the 10-K mark in 28:24 with a 16-second lead, but he began to get nervous. Had he gone out too fast?
"I passed 10-K and it was very fast," Kiprono recounted. "It was very hard for me."
With Abdosh and Chelanga struggling, Kiprono's Saucony teammate and training partner Lani Rutto --who came into the race in fourth position in the Medley standings-- had passed both men and moved into second place. He appeared to be making up some ground on Kiprono, who repeatedly looked behind him to see if he was holding his lead.
"I said, 'let me maintain this pace,'" he told reporters. "I saw the gap was still opening."
By 15-K (43:09), Rutto was 16 seconds back, and the gap was just too big to overcome. Kiprono entered White Stadium in Franklin Park alone, acknowledged the cheers of the small crowd, and broke the tape wearing a big smile, $106,000 richer, including the $6,000 first place prize. Rutto finished second in 1:01:55 and, like Kiprono, set a personal best.
"God bless him," said Chelanga after finishing third in 1:03:22. "It was his day."
Abdosh ended up fourth and Irishman Alistair Cragg was fifth (1:04:10).
For Smith, 30, a New Zealander who lives in Providence, R.I., the break for victory came much later in the race. She went into today's competition with a 16-second lead in the Medley over Ethiopia's Aheza Kiros, so her strategy was to keep Kiros in sight but not push the pace.
"We were going so slow at the start it was weird," said Smith, who finished 15 in the London Olympic Marathon.
Smith and Kiros ran together for the first half of the race, subtly testing each other, before the definitive break was made.
"We were both throwing in some surges after about halfway," Smith recalled. "And then at about the 9-mile mark I threw in one last surge and got away. I got a bit of a gap and just kept it going."
Smith hit the 15-K mark in 50:23, with a five-second lead on Kiros. As each kilometer passed, Smith was widening her lead. Kiros soon relented, and would finish nearly two minutes behind Smith in 1:12:50.
Smith, who got married on September 1, said that she was relieved that the race was over, and that it didn't take too much out of her, a big concern as she turns her attention to the ING New York City Marathon on November 4.
As for the money, she said she planned to spend at least some of it on a trip after her marathon.
"I guess a honeymoon in Hawaii, maybe?" she said. "And some other things."
PHOTO: Kim Smith pulls away from Aheza Kiros in the ninth mile at the 2012 B.A.A. Half-Marathon (Photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly).